LK Weiss and Laura Kloosterman both like wearing bow ties, but for a long time couldn’t find what they wanted – something modern, but more feminine than the “super masculine” ties that are already on the market. So they started making their own.

The two women jumped right into a unisex bow tie business, a Portland-based company called Bowline Co., which they founded in 2014. They also make custom bow ties for children and dogs.

Photo courtesy of Bowline Co.

Photo courtesy of Bowline Co.

“We try to source as much as possible from Maine, and if not Maine, then definitely New England,” Weiss said.

They often repurpose fabrics, turning old L.L. Bean flannel shirts into bow ties. Once, they found some orange hunting vests at Goodwill and turned them into bow ties, and they are still making those, although they now source the fabric elsewhere.

“Some people buy it for their son who likes hunting, but other people just like it because it’s really loud,” Weiss said. “To be honest, if you walk down the street wearing that bow tie, you’ll get screamed at from across the street. People love it because you can see it from so far away.”

42002 Bow tie Brooklin

Photo courtesy of Bowline Co.

All of the ties are made on an antique sewing machine and named after places in Maine. One of the most popular is called Brooklin, a Navy tie with white dots named after the little Hancock County town. Most cost $59.

Bowline donates 50 percent of its profits from two of the bow ties it makes to charity. Sales of a pinkish bow tie called the Cambridge benefit the Maine Cancer Center, while the bright yellow First Responder bow tie benefits foundations created to help 9/11 families.

The bow ties are available online or at David Wood Clothiers in Portland; Portland Trading Co.; and Beachology in Old Orchard Beach.

What’s next? Weiss and Kloosterman are developing prototypes for neckties.

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